There You Go Again: Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Saturn Return and Mercury Retrograde Hazards
September 15, 2009
Jimmy Carter cited racism in the tone of “an overwhelming portion” of President Barack Obama‘s critics in a speech he gave Tuesday at his Presidential Center in Atlanta, and in a TV interview that night with NBC’s Brian Williams.
The former president’s remarks were made in the wake of South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst at President Obama’s speech on September 9th, and this weekend’s “September 12th Movement” rally in Washington D.C.
Coincidentally, Carter’s former Press Secretary, Jody Powell, died of an apparent heart attack on September 14th, the day before he made his statement.
Carter’s public stand comes at a time when transiting Saturn in Virgo is making its return to the zodiacal position it held during the darkest days of his presidency in 1979-1980. Saturn’s ingress into Libra, which we can expect at the end of October 2009, made its last entry in that sign in September 1980, as Carter was becoming eclipsed by Republican opponent Ronald Reagan in his re-election bid.
Natal Planetary Aspects
Carter’s natal Mercury in Virgo is in the 12th house, opposite Uranus retrograde in Pisces in the 6th. Uranus’ ingress to Pisces in March 2003 was its first since it passed through the sign during the 1920’s, the decade he was born.
This natal configuration reflects both his superior intellect (the only nuclear physicist to ever hold the top office), but also how that very strength can work against his better interests at certain times.
His natal North Node, Neptune and Venus in Leo in the 11th house are opposite his natal South Node and Mars post-retrograde in Aquarius in the 5th house, an indicator of his global worldview and humanitarian principles.
On Tuesday, the transiting Sun was conjunct Saturn in Virgo, both having just crossed over his natal Mercury and headed for conjunction with Mercury retrograde in Libra and opposite transiting Uranus retrograde in Pisces. Saturn has now returned to where it was in late 1979, during the time the Iran hostage crisis and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan began, and in mid-1980, as Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination.
So far, Carter’s Saturn transit to natal Mercury in Virgo has manifested with Powell’s death (a very literal “death of a messenger”), and his return to the headlines with Tuesday’s remarks.
Transiting Venus was making its return to his natal Venus in Leo, opposite transiting Neptune retrograde and natal Mars post-retrograde in Aquarius, signifying his advocacy of ending racial hate and defending the office of the presidency.
Transiting Mars was conjunct his natal Pluto and Midheaven in Cancer, square his natal Ascendant in Libra. Mars will be stationing retrograde in Leo in December 2009, its first retrograde station in that sign since late 1977 (more below).
Saturn has been in Virgo since 2007, and will make its ingress to Libra at the end of October. This period has been Saturn’s first transit through Virgo since late 1977 to late 1980, a period that coincides with most of Carter’s term in office.
A New Year’s Toast in Tehran
December 31, 1977
Three weeks shy of completing his first year in office, President Carter arrived in Tehran, Iran at 4:29 p.m. on December 31, 1977, to celebrate the new year with Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. At that evening’s dinner party, Carter declared Iran to be an “island of stability” in the Middle East, and then all, including the Shah and his wife, drank a champagne toast.
Carter had unwittingly played into the hands of the Shah’s political enemies, by allowing the Shah to be seen as a complicit ally who was corrupted to the point of drinking alcohol. Just over a year later, the Iranian Revolution began when the Shah was forced under political pressure to flee the country, followed by the return of the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini on February 1, 1979.
Transiting Saturn retrograde had only just ingressed to Virgo earlier that month,just as it made its station, marking an early and crucial turning point that would set the course for the rest of Saturn’s transit through that sign.
Transiting Mars was retrograde in Leo, again marking the early seeds of a crisis that would eventually unfold as transiting Mars would be slowing to its next retrograde two years later. Mars will station retrograde in Leo again starting December 20, 2009, the first time since 1977 that it has stationed retrograde in that sign.
Transiting Mercury retrograde was making its direct station in Sagittarius. As mentioned earlier, transiting Mercury is currently retrograde in Libra, having stationed retrograde on September 7th, conjunct Carter’s natal Sun.
Camp David Peace Accords
September 17, 1978
Carter brought together Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at Camp David, near Hagerstown, Maryland, on September 5, 1978, to work out a peace agreement between the two countries.
After twelve days of negotiations, the Camp David Peace Accords were signed at 10:15 p.m. on September 17th in Washington D.C., an impressive diplomatic feat on Carter’s part that remains intact thirty-one years later.
The transiting Sun was conjunct the transiting North Node in Virgo, reflecting a historical milestone on behalf of peace and good relations in the Middle East.
Transiting Mercury in Virgo, which had stationed direct a few days prior to the beginning of the talks, was square transiting Neptune and natal Jupiter in Sagittarius, signifying his part in bringing together the two adversaries.
Transiting Uranus was conjunct his natal Moon in Scorpio, an indicator of Carter’s unique achievement in the history of American foreign policy.
Crisis of Confidence
July 15, 1979
With gas prices reaching record highs in June 1979, matters reached a volatile peak when riots began breaking out in the United States. In Levittown, Pennsylvania during the weekend of June 23-24, frustrated truckers created a blockade, the nation’s first mass protest against the energy crisis. President Carter’s national approval rating hit 25%, lower than Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.
On the evening of July 15th, after a week of holding closed talks with advisors and critics, Carter gave a televised address to the country, what would later be called his “malaise speech,” even though that term was not actually used by the president.
In a prophetic moment, Carter urged the nation to adapt to a more limited standard of consumption, saying, “The solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country…In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.”
Transiting Saturn and the North Lunar Node were conjunct in Virgo, signifying the rational and sensible conservationist message the president was trying to convey.
Transiting Jupiter and Mercury station retrograde in Leo were square Carter’s natal Moon in Scorpio, reflecting his emphatic and emotional address on the problem of overconsumption.
Transiting Mars in Gemini was opposite Carter’s natal Jupiter in Sagittarius, an indicator of the tense and combative atmosphere he was in at the time.
November 4, 1979
Following on the heels of the Iranian revolution nine months earlier, the single event that would come to define the Carter presidency more than any other was the taking of more than sixty hostages from the American Embassy in Tehran at about 6:30 a.m. on November 4, 1979.
Angered by the administration’s decision to allow the former Shah into the United States for medical treatment on October 22nd, a mob of young Islamist revolutionaries laid siege to the embassy and took American prisoners, most of whom would remain captive for the next 444 days.
Transiting Saturn had just crossed over Carter’s natal Mercury in Virgo, representing the responsibility he would bear for the government’s failure to resolve the crisis, close to the same position Saturn occupies this week, almost thirty years later, as he comes under criticism once again.
Transiting Mars was slowing down to retrograde in Leo (it would station in Virgo two months later, as the hostage crisis became unmanageable), conjunct Carter’s natal North Node, Neptune and Venus in Leo, opposite his natal South Node and Mars post-retrograde in Aquarius, square transiting Uranus in Scorpio, signifying the severity and magnitude of the crisis itself, the Iranian revolutionaries who saw him as their prime enemy.
Transiting Mercury in Sagittarius was about to station retrograde, marking this as another vulnerable period in Carter’s popularity.
Six weeks after the hostages were taken, Carter was burdened further when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 24th.
Republicans Nominate Reagan
July 17, 1980
President Carter’s attempt to have the hostages rescued by military forces on April 25, 1980, short after Mars stationed direct in Leo, was a disaster that resulted only in the accidental deaths of eight U.S. soliders.
On July 17th, the Republican party nominated former California governor and Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan to be its presidential candidate for the upcoming 1980 election.
Reagan, a new breed of conservative in the Republican party, had been famous in America for about forty years by this point, and came ready-made with an All-American image and sharp media savvy.
Transiting Saturn was again crossing over Carter’s natal Mercury in Virgo, opposite his natal Uranus retrograde in Pisces, square by transiting Venus post-retrograde in Gemini and transiting Neptune retrograde in Sagittarius, signfying the now-visible threat to his prospects for re-election.
Transiting Mercury retrograde was conjunct Carter’s natal Pluto and Midheaven in Cancer, reflecting his diminishing stature in the eyes of the weary American public.
President Carter was having his transiting Lunar Nodal return in Leo-Aquarius, square by transiting Uranus retrograde in Scorpio, indicating his quickly receding relevance in the changing political climate.
Ronald Reagan Elected President
November 4, 1980
President Carter initially refused to debate the other candidates in the election campaign, leaving Reagan to debate fellow conservative John Anderson in Baltimore on September 21, 1980, just as Saturn made its ingress to Libra.
Carter finally agreed to debate Reagan in Cleveland on October 28th, just one week before election day. Reagan scored the night’s most memorable line with his smooth retort to Carter when the president tried to attack his position on (ironically) Medicare: “there you go again.”
Reagan was elected by almost ten percent in the popular vote, and with a landslade in the electoral college, with 489 to Carter’s 49. The Republicans also gained control of the Senate for the first time in twenty-five years.
The hostages in Iran were released hours after Reagan’s inauguration on January 20 1981.
On election night, transiting Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and the Moon were conjunct Carter’s natal Sun and Ascendant in Libra, an indicator of the fact that the momentum in his campaign came on too late for him to win.
Transiting Mercury retrograde and the Sun were conjunct Carter’s natal Moon in Scorpio, signifying his having fallen from public favor.
Transiting Uranus in Scorpio was square Carter’s natal Venus in Leo and Mars post-retrograde in Aqarius, reflecting the verdict on his broken relationhip with American voters.
Considering Saturn’s imminent ingress to Libra in October, and the Mars retrograde in Leo that begins in December, Carter’s public profile is likely to remain high in the coming months, if not over a review of his political legacy, then because further actions and words contribute to escalating the nation’s contentious political divide.